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Making Money While Solving Youth Unemployment – Tunji Awonusi

 

Let me start my column by commending the efforts of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibajo, in shining light on the youth unemployment time bomb waiting to explode in the country. It gladdens my heart that even in the controversy of lazy youths debate that was raging in our country at the time the Vice President was touring the technology hub in Lagos encouraging and giving much needed free media to young Nigerians excelling in small and medium start-ups.

Technology Hubs are defined as physical spaces designed to foster and support technology start-ups. These include incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces, fab labs, maker-spaces and other innovation centres.

The Technology hub report of 2018 states that Africa is currently home to 442 technology hubs up from 314 active hubs reported in 2016.

Technology is credited globally as a major disrupter in the corruption and poverty space. These new hubs are in this regard providing communities with infrastructures to support home grown innovations. Start-ups require less infrastructures and financial risk for rapid growth than big industries. These hubs are not only providing start-ups with the technical support and access to fast internet and free training but also provide an ecosystem for both professionals and social entrepreneurs to thrive.

In Nigeria technology start-ups are developing technology software solutions which companies and organisations are leveraging on to improve service delivery and address societal challenges. Unemployment in Nigeria and Africa has been identified as one of the major drivers of youth poverty.

I will be looking at two new technology applications with a little support from government and private investors that can be a game changer in Nigeria. Taxify and Uber are two applications that help customers hail a taxi from their mobile phones without having to leave the comfort of their homes which saves time and money. I have traveled to meetings in these taxis and I find them value for money in a place like Lagos where parking can be a serious challenge. What I plan to do today is to share how our readers can also benefit from this move by investing in the unfolding transaction.

There are three distinct players in the loop; Customers, Car owner/Driver and the company in this article Uber/Taxify. The customer is the king as always because he pays the bill. The car owner/ Driver are the physical objects used to get the customer from A to B and the technology company is the owner of the application used to connect the customer to the driver. What I want to highlight is the investment opportunities on the car owner/ driver side.

To reduce poverty and level of unemployment in the country among our young people the government needs to come in quickly into this space by guaranteeing soft financing options for qualified drivers to be able to access car hire purchase deals with low interest rates. This will increase the amount of cars sold in the country which in turn will encourage the car manufacturers to invest more and take on more young people in their production. The drivers can easily be accessed for tax purposes since their details are already in the system. This, certainly, also adds to the revenue of the country.

I have rode on Uber outside Nigeria but was unaware of the opportunities abound in the Nigeria model. My eyes were opened when I hailed a car from Taxify and enjoyed a conversation with the gentleman who came to pick me up. He’s a graduate who three years ago started out first with Uber but now with Taxify due to better driver remuneration. He started driving for them when he looked for jobs that were non-existent in the country and from what he told me, he’s doing very well looking after his family. He’s hiring his car for now, on which he pays N35, 000 naira weekly to the investor. However, he makes about N20, 000 weekly after deducting his costs. He explained that the investment is win-win for everybody as the taxi hailing company apps has car tracker which can help track your car in the event of theft. Furthermore, the investor has access to the app as a partner of the technology company. I have decided to invest in the business starting with a car as part of my contribution to reducing youth unemployment in the country and to ultimately make a passive income on an asset that I would have abandoned over a long period.

Disrupting the market in this way may not be welcomed by everyone. We have seen how Uber and taxify move into Nigeria’s taxi business space have sparked pockets of protests by the traditional drivers over the last several years but that is a small price to pay for creating employment for our teeming young people.